Travel Planning

It is a cold, windy, wet spring day here today, so we’re both indoors by the fire, reading and such.  I’m digging into some travel planning. 

Scotland:  We want to take a week in June to do a road trip in Scotland.  We want to make it up to Inverness and Loch Ness.  Interested in spending time on the coast and perhaps an island.  We want this to be a low-key trip.

Switzerland:  We want to spend 2 weeks in July in Switzerland.  I’m looking at the Berner Oberland and thinking that would be perfect for 4 or so days.  We want to do lots of hiking.  Also want to have some lazy days just taking in the scenery from the trains.

I would love any advice and suggestions of places to go and things to do.

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10 responses to “Travel Planning

  1. Consider staying on the Island of Iona (or Mull if Iona is fulyl booked) to visit the Monastary/Abbey on Iona which was founded by St. columbus when he reputedly bought Christianity to Britain. It is still a retreat and a fabulous working church. I camped on Iona for a week in 1980 and helped out at the Abbey its a small Island easy to hike around in a day. The Isle of Mull is also stunningly beautiful, less Barren than Iona. The journey to the Islands through Oban is also outstanding.

  2. Yeah for travel planning. I think our next trip is going to be a warm tropical island. Less planning and quick flights from Houston.

  3. ever think of going to the Edinburgh festival?I know that is probably not you definition of “low key” but it always looked like fun to me.

  4. Regarding Scotland: One of the most vivid memories of my 1988 trip (actually, two) to Scotland was a raw February day at Cullodden, as an older History prof from Springfield MO narrated the story of the historic battle there between the English and the Scots. You could almost see the chaos of battle take place across the barren moor. (If you visit there, make sure you know which side to root for. I’m afraid you two might have become too “English” for the locals!) I’m thinking that June weather will make it a different kind of experience! Do you plan to see either of the two big cities? Edinburgh was my favorite, with the hulking castle lit up at night, looking down over the rest of the city. On both trips, I stayed at the Castle B&B, on Castle Street, natch. Stand in the street and look up at the beautifully lighted—castle!!! Sarah, there would be shopping to be done along the Royal Mile. Actually, Steve might like it, too. I ALMOST succumbed to buying a kilt there. I think the Swiss and the Scots have something in common, though I’m not sure what. I remember a bit about Loch Ness, maybe a bit touristy, but not bad. Nothing at all like Branson! You might plan to do some hiking in the highlands, but be prepared for a fast change in the weather. Take warm clothes, rain gear, and if not a GPS, at least a compass and map. When it gets foggy and dreary, it can be hard to get your bearings.
    I have a colleague who told me last week that he and his grown son are going to be “climbing” (hiking) Ben Nevis and the two other highest peaks in Scotland. They will be there in July.
    Another memory was staying in Crianlarich, at the Glenardran House. Don’t remember much of the accommodations, but remember playing darts and cards with the locals at the Ben Mor pub. You two are good at investigating pubs, so you would probably do those kinds of things wherever you stay.
    I was less taken with Glasgow, but didn’t have a bad time. I guess it goes without saying that castles and distilleries are pretty high on tour bus stops?

  5. Forgot to mention Switzerland. Yes, Brenda and I would second your idea of “wanderwegging” (Be sure to pronounce those Ws as Vs!) through the Bernese Oberland. My genetic material comes from somewhere around there, though we’re not exactly sure where. We loved the trains, though inflation and the exchange rate have played heck with the costs of the rail passes. Remember that those passes are good for Post buses, many city buses, and some boats. We simply packed in a large backpack, and when we saw a place we wanted to visit, we jumped off the train, put our packs in the lockers (yes, they are still civilized enough to have lockers–at least they did about 5 years ago), and used a small day pack or fanny pack to explore the town. We would buy provisions in a grocery store, then have a lunch back on the train as we rode to our next destination. (We came to like the peach-flavored iced tea that came ready-made in cartons.) Though we didn’t do it, I’m told that there are also bicycles to rent at some of the train stations. It may be that your rail pass will be good for that , too. I remember that being the case in southern Germany in the late Eighties.
    Robbie and Margie could give you some opinions about the Gimmewald and Wengen area. I lost my wallet to a pickpocket on the Interlocken train platform. July will have even more tourists (crowds) around, so people will be in closer proximity, and that’s why you need to beware, even in Switzerland. (Though surely the crook was not Swiss! The local policeman blamed it on “the gypsies”!)
    The country is smaller than our congressional district, so it is relatively easy to get anywhere in it by train. We liked riding in the Glacier Express, just for sightseeing. Some of the mountain cuts, tunnels, and bridges in the southern part of the country make for some memorable train riding.
    I’m jealous about your trip (actually, both of them!). Pack light. We learned that if you don’t see the same people each day (except for the dreaded British couple that keeps popping up), no one will know if you wear the same thing two days in a row. Easier to blend in by dressing like Brits than like Americans, with beer T-shirts, garish ballcaps worn backwards, etc. Steve knows the drill. It’s fun to be so low-key that you’re thought of as locals, which happened to us several times. It wasn’t just me, with my “Swiss” appearance. It also happened to my Danish/Native American bride!

  6. I’m SO happy for you that you are planning that trip to Switzerland! Of course, I’m sure that the trip to Scotland will be wonderful, too (just no memories for me from there). I ditto everything that Rick said and would add that my favorite city was Lucerne. I could have done some very serious shopping here. In fact, I think I remember saying at the time that if I were to ever win the lottery and could take your mom and Aunt Janis on a shopping trip, that would be the place!!! And I believe that it was a Tuesday (and maybe a Saturday) that are the Market Days in Lucerne. If you can arrange your trip for a market day (check with the other Rick…), I would highly suggest it. I don’t know if a trip to Sent (sp???) on the Austrian border would be “doable” but that was another one of my favorite places. We had to take a short postbus ride to get to it….QUAINT!!!! One of the Heidi movies had been filmed there….. Well, anyway, it will be fun to hear about the new places that I’m sure you’ll discover. Speaking of trips, we are really looking forward to our trip week after next to see Lowell and the “Big Apple”!!! Our first night with Lowell will be in a hotel near Times Square so we need to be deciding whether we are going to take in a play… and I am really looking forward to a few relaxing days of exploration on Long Island. I guess that you have heard that your mom saved me this weekend by coming down to take care of Grandma for a couple of days while I was down with the flu (“down” is putting it mildly as I was crying…moaning….etc. for what seemed like an eternity until the phenergan kicked in and controlled the nausea. I couldn’t decide which was worse…the excruciating headache or the waves of nausea and vomiting. Anyway, I’m much better and even better noone else has shown any symptoms SO FAR!!!! And, wow, can you believe that you will be an aunt and uncle any day now???? That’s exciting!!!! Much love to you both….. Auntie B

  7. My friend in Glasgow gets 40 vacation days a year. Is it similar for you? Is that what allows you to plan more than one trip a year? I’m jealous :)

  8. We get about 6 weeks vacation (plus 8 bank holidays)…it is one of the reasons we moved over here…so that we can do more traveling.

  9. Thanks for all the tips and stories…keep em coming.

  10. Your Dad was telling me about you wanting to visit Scotland and thought I might want to offer an opinion. Having been married to a bagpiper for a number of years, I had many occasion to visit this there. I have to agree with your uncle, Edinburgh is the BEST! There are many historical sites to see as well as great shopping! I also enjoy the cheesiness of LochNess. It’s one of those places that you just like to say you’ve been to. A couple of times, we drove from Glasgow up to the Isle of Skye, passing, Loch Lohmond, Loch Ness, stopping along the way in Ft. William in the Highlands and in Inverness.

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